The Myth of the Lazy Millennial

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Many people think of Millennials as lazy. They note that Millennials are more likely to rely on delivery apps instead of running to the store, they text or FaceTime instead of driving to a friend’s house to hang out in person. In fact, they are more likely to Uber there instead of drive. Millennials are also more likely to outsource things like cooking and laundry to web or app-based businesses focused on providing these services.

But there’s one thing many people overlook when discussing Millennials and laziness. Millennials aren’t just using the spare time they’ve gained to sit around. Instead, they are much more likely to use this free time on self improvement and investing in themselves. Millennials are more likely than older generations to be enrolled in online classes or to use learning-focused apps. When embarking on a new endeavor, Millennials also strive to be the "best" and "masters" of new skills whether that's artisanal knife making or learning a new language on Duolingo. 

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According to a study by Field Agent, in 2015, 94% of millennials reported making personal improvement commitments, compared with 84% of Boomers and 81% of Gen Xers. “Boomers said they’d spend an average of $152 a month on self-improvement, millennials anticipated spending nearly twice that—though our average income is half as much,” Forbes reports. Their “strategies range from new workout regimes and diet plans to life coaching, therapy and apps designed to improve wellbeing.”

Even wild financial and business success isn’t enough to quench many Millennials thirst for self-improvement. Take Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, for example. A quintessential Millennial, Zuckerberg is constantly striving for betterment. Each year he publically embarks on a personal challenge, whether that’s reading a new book every week, learning a new language, or personally preparing all meat he consumes, Zuckerberg is always reaching higher.

Many Millennials aspire to match this level of commitment to improving himself. “I run three experiments each year inspired by Zuckerberg,” Dave Fontenot a 22-year-old San Francisco resident tells the New York Times. “This year, Mr. Fontenot aims to improve his posture, meditate and spend more time alone. He also trained himself to send thank-you notes, either handwritten or as voice recordings via text, inspired by Mr. Zuckerberg,” the New York Times reports.

Companies looking to tap into this quest for self-improvement don’t need to worry about building the next delivery app. Instead, employers can tap into these desires by offering young employees tuition reimbursement for online classes related to their field, or organizing off-hours social events like a letterpress workshop. Businesses can also consider revamping their wellness programs. Young employees may not care for that corporate rate at a local gym, but might love a free intro class to Brazilian Ju-Jitsu. If there’s one thing businesses and older generations can learn from Millennials, it’s that there’s always room for improvement.